Girl students in higher education institutions across the State are appreciative of the decision to provide them menstruation leave. However, there are a lot more facilities that they desire in campuses as they battle periods.
“We have sanitary napkin vending machines in most campuses, even in schools. But many of them are out of order and hence do not serve their purpose”, said Archana Anil Kumar, a CMA student from Kozhikode. She said that girls need to go out of campuses most of the time, if they needed napkins and had to pay much higher prices for what could be available through the vending machines for ₹5.
Nashva P.P., a fine arts student in Thiruvananthapuram feels that the non-availability of proper toilets was a bigger hurdle for girls, especially in a co-ed institution. “Our campus is a vast one and the ladies toilet is in one corner of it. We would greatly appreciate it if we had some cleaner toilets at a more accessible distance”, she said.
Meanwhile, the stigma attached to periods is almost non-existent in the campuses these days, as male students are also aware of the complications faced by their female counterparts during periods. “I have several male friends who ask me if my mood swings were due to periods. The recent discussions on the issue in mainstream media has helped in creating awareness among boys”, Archana said.
On the other hand, girls are still victims to the taboos surrounding periods at their homes. “I have several friends who are not allowed to dine with other members of the family or even fetch water from wells during periods. The government should also think about an awareness campaign against these taboos,” said Drishya K., an undergraduate student from Ernakulam, pointing out that many girls are still not comfortable to use the word ‘periods’ or ‘menstruation’. “I wonder how many girls would make use of their rightful leave,” she added.
Nashva, on the other hand, feels that girls these days are no more shy to talk about their period-related problems and would make use of the menstruation leave in a jiffy. However, Archana fears that the leave could be misused by girls for bunking classes.